A Faithful Shepherd Boy by Unknown

[Illustration:]

Gerhardt was a German shepherd boy, and a noble fellow he was, although he was very poor.

One day he was watching his flock, which was feeding in a valley on the borders of a forest, when a hunter came out of the woods and asked:—

"How far is it to the nearest village?"

"Six miles, sir," replied the boy; "but the road is only a sheep track, and very easily missed."

The hunter looked at the crooked track and said:—

"My lad, I am very hungry and thirsty; I have lost my companions and missed my way; leave your sheep and show me the road. I will pay you well."

"I cannot leave my sheep, sir," replied Gerhardt. "They will stray into the forest, and may be eaten by wolves or stolen by robbers."

"Well, what of that?" queried the hunter. "They are not your sheep. The loss of one or more wouldn't be much to your master, and I'll give you more than you have earned in a whole year."

"I cannot go, sir," rejoined Gerhardt, very firmly. "My master pays me for my time, and he trusts me with his sheep; if I were to sell my time, which does not belong to me, and the sheep should get lost, it would be the same as if I stole them."

"Well," said the hunter, "will you trust your sheep with me while you go to the village and get some food, drink, and a guide? I will take care of them for you."

The boy shook his head. "The sheep do not know your voice, and—" he stopped speaking.

"And what? Can't you trust me? Do I look like a dishonest man?" asked the hunter, angrily.

"Sir," said the boy, "you tried to make me false to my trust, and wanted me to break my word to my master; how do I know that you would keep your word to me?"

The hunter laughed, for he felt that the lad had fairly cornered him. He said:—

"I see, my lad, that you are a good, faithful boy. I will not forget you. Show me the road and I will try to make it out myself."

Gerhardt then offered the contents of his bag to the hungry man, who, coarse as it was, ate it gladly. Presently his attendants came up, and then Gerhardt, to his surprise, found that the hunter was the grand duke, who owned all the country round.

The duke was so pleased with the boy's honesty, that he sent for him shortly after that, and had him educated.

In after years Gerhardt became a great and powerful man, but he remained honest and true to his dying day.